Recently I received an email question that I answered and I wanted to share it…

Hey Tom,

I should have asked you this question yesterday when you presented to our CEO group, but I didn’t think of it then. I have a big sale opportunity that we are scheduled to give a proposal to in two weeks, (company name omitted). We are a $9M staffing firm and I put $1M-$2M as my size filter. This is a $4.5M account, clearly out of our range. I am not getting strong buying signs and don’t feel we have much chance of landing this one.

Question is: My plan is to put together a proposal and go ahead and present. My reasoning is to use it as a learning opportunity for us. Our contact is pretty friendly and I think would give us some good feedback after the fact. Is this a good idea?”

My response…


Thanks for the email. The fact is that you can learn things more effectively on deals you are going to win, than on deals you are not. Unless you can break this process, I would not waste my time/team’s time and effort. One of the side-effects of participating in losing bids is that your team learns how to lose deals it clearly should not have pitched – truly, very questionable value.

Also, I think that for the price of a phone call or a beer, you can probably get the feedback on winners and losers after the fact from your friendly contact. Ask these three questions to him/her after it has been awarded to someone:

  1. What was the 5% difference that was not price that made the difference between the winner and everyone else?
  2. What did this process teach you and your team that you will be making certain to teach all of your people on future deals?
  3. If you could give 3 tips to the losers in this process that they should do different next time, what would they be?

You will get everything you need without spending the time and effort yourself in the bid process. Take the knowledge and use it on the next hunt.
Best wishes on all of your big hunts,

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